Sen Kyrsten Sinema mocked for trading compliments with Mitch McConnell and defending filibuster: ‘It’s baffling top to bottom’

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona defended her support for the filibuster at an event held at an institution named for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday.

The Arizona Democrat spoke at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, where the Republican Senate leader praised the freshman Democrat who has frequently opposed her own party.

“I’ve only known Kyrsten for four years but she is, in my view, and I told her this, one of the most effective first-term Senator I’ve seen in the Senate,” he said to applause. “She is today what we have too few of in the Democratic Party – a genuine moderate and a dealmaker.”

Mr McConnell has previously featured Democrats such as Senator Amy Klobuchar and President Joe Biden when he was vice president. Ms Sinema also praised the Republican leader.

“Despite our apparent differences, Senator McConnell and I have forged a friendship,” she said. “One that is rooted in our commonalities, including our pragmatic approach to legislating, our respect for the Senate as an institution, a love for our home states and a dogged determination on behalf of our constituents.”

Ms Sinema was mocked online for trading compliments with Mr McConnell.

Ms Sinema and her fellow conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia have frequently frustrated fellow Democrats for opposing changing the filibuster. Earlier this year, she gave a speech articulating her opposition to changing the Senate rules when Democrats hoped to make an exception to pass a new version of the Voting Rights Act.

Ms Sinema defended her stance once again on Monday when asked by an attendee at the event in Louisville.

“When Republicans are in control, they pass a little bit of crazy legislation, and when Democrats are in control, they pass a little bit of crazy legislation, and the job of the Senate is to cool that passion,” she said.

She said that the Senate was designed to move slower and cool down passions so legislators could think about the policy before them.

“The best thing you can do for your child is to not give them everything they want,” she said. “And that’s important to the United States Senate as well. We should give everything we want in the moment.”

Ms Sinema never actually referred to the filibuster by name – preferring to use “the 60-vote threshold” – but also said that she wanted to return it for areas where it was already eliminated.

“Not everyone likes that,” she said.

But there is evidence that Ms Sinema’s style of politics is not popular in her home state. An AARP poll released last week showed that every voting demographic had an unfavourable opinion of the freshman senator despite her work passing everything from gun control to the bipartisan infrastructure bill.